Senator Ron Wyden Gets it Right When Posting on Reddit

So, if you are in anyway familiar with the Internet, you’re likely aware of the SOPA and PIPA protests that consumed the net on Wednesday. Don’t worry. I’m not about to go on a diatribe about the issue. However, I do intend to share a very astute demonstration of social media know-how by a United States senator.

Yesterday, Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon posted a link on reddit entitled I’m Senator Ron Wyden and wanted to say thank you to Reddit and the rest of the Internet. The link sent reddit users to his website where they could read a thank you letter detailing the importance of Internet freedom and his appreciation for all of the people who spoke out against the bills.

Nowadays, a government official using social media really isn’t very newsworthy. Mayors, congressmen, and all forms of government officials have Twitter handles, Facebook pages, and YouTube accounts. However, reddit is a different beast altogether. It quite often tends to be extremely cynical so it’s rather noteworthy the senator made the front page and, for a brief moment, had the #1 post.

Senator Wyden and his social media team had two very important characteristics that helped this post become successful:

1. Transparency – Someone on Senator Wyden’s staff could have posted a link saying something like “Look how much this senator appreciates what Reddit did yesterday!” and it may have worked. However (and this is a very important “However”), if Redditors ever found out the user worked for the senator, he would likely have been torn apart. Reddit hates deception. It was much more effective to create an account with the senatorwyden username and for the wording to explicitly state his intentions. Transparency is part of what makes social media so great, so embracing it was a very smart choice.

2. Savvy – Posting is an art unto itself and choosing the correct subreddit (i.e. the reddit equivalent of a niche) is key. A link that fails miserably in one may shoot to the top in another. Not only did senator Wyden’s team post in the appropriate r/politics, they also made sure to post in the middle of the day on east coast time (a time with very high traffic). In one of his comments, he also indicated that he is hoping to do an IAmA post (essentially a Q&A session) in the future. The execution points to the fact that they are extremely familiar with the site and how it works.

So if you’re looking to further your cause on reddit, take note of Senator Wyden’s example and be sure to do plenty of research lest your efforts blow up in your face.

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